Camps all over the country are gearing up for this year’s batch of classroom refugees, and with all the options available for children with hearing loss, your child doesn’t have to miss out on all the s’mores and campfire sing-a-longs.
Gallaudet University compiled a list of camps and remedial programs for deaf or hard-of-hearing children in 35 states coast-to-coast, from California to Alabama to New Hampshire. These camps provide a wide range of life-building activities, focusing specifically on communication techniques and social skills. Some camps even accept applications from children with normal hearing who have siblings or parents with hearing loss.
Many hearing loss camps will also feature your typical summer activities: swimming, horseback riding, sports, etc., so it’s important to make sure your child is prepared to handle the fun.
What to pack
Since camps oftentimes last a week or longer, making sure your child has back-up batteries for her hearing aid is crucial. Also check the batteries currently in the hearing aid; it’s probably a good idea to put in new ones before sending her off to the bus.
Something else to consider stuffing in her suitcase would be any accessories she might need to protect her hearing aid from the elements, or help keep it secure during a game of kickball. Hearing aid sleeves and sports clips or necklaces are useful and inexpensive.
Also make sure to include any storage and cleaning devices, and show your child how to properly maintain the hearing aid if you haven’t already.
If you’re sending your child to a hearing loss-friendly summer camp, the counselors and staff will already be trained to assist your child with her basic day-to-day routine. But you should also include a letter that details your child’s specific needs, what she is good at doing on her own and what she usually forgets (or purposely overlooks), instructions for her hearing equipment and emergency phone numbers.
Identify whom your child will be entrusted to, and determine what the camp’s crisis response procedures are. If your child is staying at a non-hearing loss-oriented camp, ensure she is listed as needing assistance in the event of an emergency. Notify any and all necessary personnel to her condition.
Do your research
There are several sites devoted to helping you find the camp most suited for your child’s needs and interests, so read up before making a commitment. Talk with your child to see what she’s comfortable with, what she’s interested in and where she’s interested in going.
Summer camps are places where your child can truly discover who they are and what they love, and it’s also a great place for her to be around other children who are just like her.
Check the camp’s credentials and try to visit beforehand so you and your child can become familiar with the facilities, as well as the policies and procedures. If you know any friends who have attended the camp before, ask them how their experience was and whether they would recommend it to their friends.
Last but definitely not least, tell your child to have fun and try new things! This is her chance to explore and be adventurous, and hearing loss shouldn’t hold her back.